England make winning start to World Cup campaign in Qatar thrashing Iran

UK

England have thrashed Iran 6-2 in their opening World Cup game in Qatar.

The match at Khalifa International Stadium marked the first-ever encounter between the two teams and saw thousands of fans pack the stands to watch the action unfold.

Before kick-off, some England supporters struggled to enter the stadium due to an issue with the FIFA ticketing app.

As the game began, the Three Lions took the knee in a gesture against racism and inequality after rowing back on a decision for the captain to wear the OneLove armband over a threat by FIFA that it would result in a yellow card for Harry Kane.

The World Cup has been largely overshadowed by non-sporting issues, including criticism of Qatar’s human rights abuses.

In an apparent act of support for protesters back home, Iran’s side chose not to sing their country’s national anthem before the game began.

Within minutes of the match beginning, Iran’s goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand was clattered in the head during a collision with one of his teammates, forcing him to the ground and eventually taken off the pitch on a stretcher with a suspected concussion.

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It was in the 35th minute that England secured their first goal, which was scored by 19-year-old Jude Bellingham.

The Great Debate

‘We’re disappointed to concede two’

Speaking after the game, Bellingham, whose goal marked his first one in an international game, said it was a “really proud moment”.

“The start was tough, and we had to dig it out,” he added. “It’s important to learn how to create chances against these kinds of sides, but we’re disappointed to concede two.”

The side kept pressure on Iran and Bukayo Saka scored a second goal in the 43rd minute before Raheem Sterling made it 3-0 in first-half stoppage time.

England's Jude Bellingham (left) celebrates scoring their side's first goal of the game with team-mate Mason Mount during the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Khalifa International Stadium, Doha. Picture date: Monday November 21, 2022.
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England’s Jude Bellingham (left) celebrates scoring their side’s first goal of the game with Mason Mount

Saka also scored the fourth goal in the 62nd minute, before Iran pulled one back in the 65th minute with Mehdi Taremi firing past Jordan Pickford, who could only get a hand to the strike.

Marcus Rashford calmly made it 5-1 in the 71st minute, moments after coming on to the pitch as a substitute, and Jack Grealish added to the scoring in the closing minutes of the match.

After securing his goal, Grealish celebrated on the pitch by doing a dance that he had promised to perform to an 11-year-old fan with cerebral palsy.

Iran made it 6-2 in added time after Taremi converted a penalty, which was awarded after the VAR advised the referee to review images of his shirt being pulled.

 England's Jack Grealish celebrates scoring their sixth goal
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England’s Jack Grealish celebrates scoring their sixth goal

‘We lost concentration’

Manager Gareth Southgate said the result was a “good start” for England, but they “need to do better”.

“We had 24 minutes of added time across the game… the mistakes were a consequence of the score line so it’s a long time to focus, and we lost concentration,” he explained.

England’s Jack Grealish (left) celebrates with manager Gareth Southgate following the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Khalifa International Stadium, Doha. Picture date: Monday November 21, 2022.
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England’s Jack Grealish (left) celebrates with Southgate

“The first half was sticky with lots of stoppages, but our pressing and movement was really good. We shouldn’t be conceding two goals at that stage of the game, so we will have to be right on our game against the States.”

England are now due to face the United States on Friday.

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